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The Role of Nutrition in Primary and Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Damage in Childhood Cancer Survivors

Published: 11 August 2022
 by  MDPI

Abstract: Innovative therapeutic strategies in childhood cancer led to a significant reduction in cancer-related mortality. Cancer survivors are a growing fragile population, at risk of long-term side effects of cancer treatments, thus requiring customized clinical attention. Antineoplastic drugs have a wide toxicity profile that can limit their clinical usage and spoil patients’ life, even years after the end of treatment. The cardiovascular system is a well-known target of antineoplastic treatments, including anthracyclines, chest radiotherapy and new molecules, such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors. We investigated nutritional changes in children with cancer from the diagnosis to the end of treatment and dietary habits in cancer survivors. At diagnosis, children with cancer may present variable degrees of malnutrition, potentially affecting drug tolerability and prognosis. During cancer treatment, the usage of corticosteroids can lead to rapid weight gain, exposing children to overweight and obesity. Moreover, dietary habits and lifestyle often dramatically change in cancer survivors, who acquire sedentary behavior and weak adherence to dietary guidelines. Furthermore, we speculated on the role of nutrition in the primary prevention of cardiac damage, investigating the potential cardioprotective role of diet-derived compounds with antioxidative properties. Finally, we summarized practical advice to improve the dietary habits of cancer survivors and their families.
Keywords: childhood cancer / cancer survivors / antineoplastic-induced cardiotoxicity / anthracyclines / diet-derived compounds / antioxidants

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